Let’s Talk About National Infertility Awareness Week

April 11, 2024

National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) is April 21-27, 2024. The week’s goal is to spark conversations and dispel myths about infertility. Despite the increasing utilization of fertility treatments, infertility is a stigmatized topic. Along with NIAW, Fairfax Cryobank wants to change that.

Infertility: The Latest Insights

New research tells us a few surprising stats about infertility, which is clinically defined as the inability to get pregnant after a year of carefully timed and unprotected sex. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the general fertility rate in 2021 was up 1% from 2020 (likely due to Covid quarantine.) However, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), recent data on infertility is staggering.

In a groundbreaking report that analyzed 133 studies from 1990-2021, WHO found that 1 in 6 people is affected by infertility globally. 17.8% of adults in high-income countries struggle with infertility at some point in their lives. Further research is needed, as this report examined infertility in heterosexual couples, not same-sex couples.

The findings by WHO underscore that infertility is a public health concern and can affect anyone. For too long, fertility research has been sidelined.

But just who does infertility affect in the US? Male infertility causes challenges in one-third of couples, female infertility causes one-third, and no known party or both parties cause infertility in one-third of cases. This means anyone is equally likely to play a part in the challenges of becoming pregnant in a couple. 19% of couples are unable to become pregnant after a year of unprotected sex.

What’s behind the global increase in infertility?

While it’s hard to pinpoint exactly one reason behind the rise in infertility, a few factors contribute. One reason is that people are delaying childbearing. Between 1972 and 2012, the delay in family building until age 35 increased ninefold. Some reasons behind the change in when people build families are reliable contraception, financial considerations, engagement in higher education, employment, and shifts in values. We know that fertility in both men and women declines with age.

Problems with ovulation are the most common reason for infertility among cis women in America. For cis men, the most common reason for infertility is problems with how the testicles work. Lifestyle factors such as smoking, excessive alcohol or substance use, and obesity also can cause infertility, which researchers say may all play a part in rising rates. Researchers are also concerned that the climate crisis is playing a part in infertility for reasons such as higher temperatures leading to reduced sperm production.

Barriers to Fertility Treatment

Economic barriers to fertility treatment are significant. Many individuals pay out of pocket for fertility care. In the United Kingdom, fertility services are publicly funded. In the US, there has been a 10% increase in companies offering fertility treatment as part of their benefits packages since 2020. But still, gaps in who has access to care remain.

Many fertility treatments are not covered by insurance. Fifteen states require private insurers to cover some fertility care. Only one state requires Medicaid to cover some fertility services, posing a significant barrier to low-income individuals struggling with infertility.

In the US, barriers to care aren’t just limited to cost; location is a hurdle for many. In an area where there are no fertility care centers, it’s called a fertility desert. 80% of fertility centers are in New York.

Race and sexual orientation influence rates and access to care. Black women experience infertility at twice the rate compared to their white counterparts. LGBTQIA+ individuals face barriers to care, such as not meeting the clinical definition of infertility, AKA failing to get pregnant after a year of unprotected intercourse with a member of the opposite sex.

A 2023 study found that basic fertility awareness and education in wellness visits can empower patients who may experience future challenges with conceiving. Many individuals remain both untreated and undiagnosed for infertility. Boosting awareness of the causes of infertility that remain under-discussed, such as untreated STIs, is vital.

NIAW aims to educate lawmakers about how infertility impacts people in their state. It’s no surprise that better legislation around fertility treatment leads to more equitable access to care.

In conjunction with NIAW, Virtual Federal Advocacy Day occurs on May 14, 2024. On that day, infertility community members meet with Members of Congress and ask for support for issues like increased access to family-building options and financial relief.

Both NIAW and Virtual Federal Advocacy Day come at a time when fertility care access protection is critical. The Alabama Supreme Court recently ruled that frozen embryos should receive legal protection as “unborn life.” Since then, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and other Alabama clinics have paused in-vitro fertilization (IVF) for fear that patients and providers could face prosecution. Family building is an immensely personal decision that legislation should be no part of other than ensuring that citizens have support. Creating confusion around fertility treatment only adds to the stigma.

The Fairfax Family is here for you with various family-building options when facing fertility challenges

Our Fairfax Family includes:

  • Fairfax Cryobank: We offer a large selection of high-quality sperm donors.
  • Fairfax Eggbank: Our team handles one of the world’s largest inventories of reproductive specimens. With fertility preservation, you can build the family you want when it’s right for you.
  • Fairfax Surrogacy: Our full-service surrogacy agency provides care for both intended parents and surrogates.
  • GIVF (Genetics and IVF Institute): We offer fertility expertise and reproductive genetic services.

Infertility is a public health issue affecting many adults and deserves more awareness about how systemic barriers and reproductive health issues contribute. This NIAW, and every day, join us in breaking the silence around the stigma of infertility. If you are exploring donor sperm options and don’t know where to start, our team is ready to help you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.